back to article Oracle wants another go at Google over Android Java copyrights

Oracle has asked a US Federal Circuit Appeals Court to overturn an earlier decision in the database giant's billion-dollar intellectual property lawsuit against Google, with an audacious brief that compares Google's use of Java in its Android smartphone OS to an author selling counterfeit Harry Potter books. Oracle's appeal …

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  1. davefb
    WTF?

    copyright for code.

    fwiw, decades ago doing 'archives' for some product, we would have to print out the first 100 pages of code, then have that in the archive. The understanding was that this was what you needed in order to 'prove' the copyright..

    now obviously this is a while ago..

    but it was far far from 'just the headings'. So god knows what Oracle think they're playing at.

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  3. the spectacularly refined chap

    Conveniently ignoring prior case law...

    There have been various cases that have shown that basic function prototypes and class declarations are not copyrightable. The ruling have been that headers are essentially functional - the specification is not distinguishable from the expression. How many ways are there to specify a function of a given name that returns an int and takes two ints as parameters?

    USL v Berkeley and SCO v IBM come to mind. Both came to the same conclusion.

    1. asdf Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Conveniently ignoring prior case law...

      Not to defend Oracle (yuck) but I could see a grey area in some template meta programming where you use the prototypes and declarations to actually generate the implementation for you. Of course that doesn't really apply in this case but just the first thing that came to mind.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Conveniently ignoring prior case law...

        Should say at least in C++ the implementation obviously only gets generated by the compiler (compiler generates the code itself) once the API is actually called (and also obviously can generate multiple implementations depending if called with different types in different ways) just to be clear. Not an exercise to defend Oracle at all but more just a curious what if.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    FAIL

    Fscking ridiculous

    "Advance copy of Harry Potter"

    Yeah no.

    Larry, take your public wankshow elsewhere. Don't you have patches to push out? Harry Potter books biting the reader, yes? Some pages that need to be replaced, perchance? Arse.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Fscking ridiculous

      A better example would have been the lampoonings Harry Potter.

      Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody. It came out 2 years after the first harry potter book, and satirizes it. It doesn't infringe of copyright even though it uses most of the same elements with a few tweaks (not barry trotter, not harry etc)

      In which case Oracles own example comes back and bites them in the arse.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Fscking ridiculous

        And the similarities continue - the Barry Trotter parodies were better than the originals.

        Downvotus Extremus Beginus!

        1. W.O.Frobozz

          Re: Fscking ridiculous

          I personally prefer the Hairy Plopper series myself.

          [gets coat]

      2. The First Dave
        FAIL

        Re: Fscking ridiculous

        No, that's a crap example because "parody" is expressly allowed as a defence.

        1. Peter 82

          Re: Fscking ridiculous

          That's not true. In the uk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_dealing_in_United_Kingdom_law

          As the Harry Potter author is english I'd have thought she would have tried to sue under uk copy-write law if she could. However the analogy stands as none of the text is copied and tapping into a fan base of another author is legal if the elements are not trademarked/trademarkable.

          If she wanted to contest under trademark law I'm sure she would have done so by now, so there might be a reason that this is not do-able too. (changing harry potter to barry trotter and keeping the character roughly similar is not enough of a defense).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fscking ridiculous

          So if Google's implementations were filled with bugs, or gave the variables politically-relevant names could they become parody?

          public void println (String lefty_rhetoric);

        3. frymaster

          Re: Fscking ridiculous

          re:parody defence

          parody is a defence against trademark claims IE your parody is allowed to be recognisable as the company it's parodying (otherwise there's no point).

          It isn't a defence against copyright infringement (though for novels this is no hardship)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fscking ridiculous

        I always liked the chinese autotranslated knock-off - Henry Porter and the Sorcerer's Wok.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "adding that "just about every smartphone carrier" at the time used Sun's Java Mobile Edition (ME) – a description of the market that conveniently ignores Apple and the iPhone."

    Except the iPhone and the Android OS were developed almost alongside eachother, time-wise, so at the point Java was being stolen for Android, the iPhone either hadn't been launched, or was just being launched. Therefore, "just about every smartphone carrier at the time used Sun's Java Mobile Edition (ME)".

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      "just about every smartphone carrier used Sun's Java Mobile Edition (ME)

      You mean used some kind of Java Mobile Edition. The incompatibilites and general crud of the JavaME implementations are legendary. I don't know out of what rat sewer these were pulled, but it was BAD.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      What smart phone?

      Dumb phones yes like my old Razr, some of the feature phones as well. But what smart phone used the crap that was Java ME?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What smart phone?

        Blackberry, Symbian (not for itself but it has/had a JVM to run jars).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What smart phone?

          "Blackberry, Symbian (not for itself but it has/had a JVM to run jars)."

          My old S60 device (9210 "erectionphone") seemed to have a full JVM. Sure, it took, a minute or two to start up, and sapped most of the RAM of the device, but it appeared to be full-fat Java.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: What smart phone?

            I believe that was an S80 or S90 device. S60 definitely had Java ME.

            @Tom 35: Smartphone platforms of the day were BlackBerry, Symbian, and last and most definitely least Windows Mobile. True, the last two had their own operating systems written in other languages but both also had a Java VM and ran Java apps, which is the same set up as present-day Android based on Linux running Dalvik apps now.

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: What smart phone?

          Ok, I'll give you Blackberry (and it turned the later pre BB10 phones into battery suckers too).

          Symbian is a stretch, that would be like saying smartphones run on flash.

          But that's still miles from "just about every smartphone carrier".

    3. Badvok

      @AC-22:32 Have an Upvote for daring to point out the truth and to counteract the weird Downvoting.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And what a load of old tat they were.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consequences

    If Oracle loses, the status quo will be maintained. Should it win, it will have enormous repercussions and spawn a tidal wave of copycat lawsuits against a large number of businesses. If anyone seriously wants Oracle to win, I would simply say this: be careful what you wish for.

    1. The First Dave
      Devil

      Re: Consequences

      Pretty much no-one wants Oracle to win _anything_, but in this case Google played very fast and loose, and deserve to be spanked very, very hard. Besides Google deserves to lose, just as much as Oracle.

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  8. Muckminded

    Get back to not fixing security holes

    in your precious copyrighted code.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

    Starting by the fact that "tapping into the fanbase" of Harry Potter is in itself copyright infringement, since the character of Harry Potter is protected by copyright; while even Oracle had to admit that the Java language itself is not protected by copyright.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

      > the character of Harry Potter is protected by copyright

      I'm not sure that's true: it might certainly be protected as a trademark.

      1. proto-robbie
        Headmaster

        Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

        It begs the question whether Oracle is, in fact, allowed to make up stories using the name of Harry Potter.

        JKR is not averse to defending her own intellectual property in the courts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

          I believe you can pretty much do what you want in a court case without it infringing copyright, trademarks or patents.

          If you couldn't then a situation could arise whereby you could not defend yourself because your defence materials infringed copyrights, trademarks or a patent.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

      It's nice to see that it's not just commentards on the interwebs who make tortured and piss-poor analogies in order to try to discuss copyright and intellectual property. If I read one more argument about how downloading music for free is or isn't like a car, I'm going to start hunting people down and using their goolies for golf balls...

      But it's nice to see Oracle's highly-paid lawyers can do it in a court case too. Would 'Demonic Dalvik and the Virtual Machine' make a good book title?

      1. cyborg
        Big Brother

        Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

        "But it's nice to see Oracle's highly-paid lawyers can do it in a court case too. Would 'Demonic Dalvik and the Virtual Machine' make a good book title?"

        Sounds like a good name for a Thrash Metal/Electro Punk mash-up band.

      2. Brian Morrison
        Joke

        Re: Ridiculous comparison is ridiculous

        No, but it would make a great name for a band...

  10. mhoulden
    Terminator

    Looks like Google might finally find a use for Dart then.....

  11. Tim Brown 1
    Headmaster

    Lul wat?

    So is this what passes for legal argument in the US these days, torturous metaphors?

    Or is it simply that Oracle's lawyers got their qualifications by watching back-to-back episodes of shows such as Boston Legal, and Ally McBeal?

    1. danny_0x98

      Re: Lul wat?

      I'd call it darn fine lawyering, getting the client to spring for briefing a wackily poor analogy to the next higher court.

      I had some sympathy for the point of view that Google, in exploiting java's good will in the developer world, should have compensated Sun for its many years of building the community by giving away sdks, documentation, frameworks and tool.

      Any way, Oracle decided to try and claim apis as copyrightable, but this would be such a large ip grab. I think, without being alarmist, that no one could implement a protocol except they license it from the originator, even if the implementation is entirely different, were Oracle's argument prevail.

      Or maybe I miss the brilliant truth that boolean Object.equals(Object o) is merely a unlicensed character in a little drama I call My Program: Does It Work?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Lul wat?

        Isn't that how Exchange ActiveSync works? (You have to license it from MS, how you implement it is up to you.)

        1. Ru
          Headmaster

          Re: Lul wat?

          Isn't that how Exchange ActiveSync works? (You have to license it from MS, how you implement it is up to you.)

          Software patents. See here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2009/feb09/02-09statement.aspx

          I suspect that Microsoft already tried to enforce copyrights on APIs back in the bad old days and got slapped down for their troubles (see also: Samba) but my memory is hazy on that matter.

  12. AchimR
    Pint

    SCO2?

    Appears Oracle's going down a path SCO started a long time ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SCO2?

      Except Oracle rake in many $$billions of cash through a successful software business each year, whereas all SCO did was try to extort money from people using heavy-handed tactics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SCO2?

        I thought that was what Oracle did too. They're just successful at it :)

  13. David 164 Bronze badge

    In the original trail Google had the advantage that Alsup actually spent time learning to code and to understood code, he would never have bought this dumb down crap from Oracle and probably would have told them that in court. I suspect Oracle is hoping that the appeal judge they get is a computer illustrate fool that will buy their arguments. They could be right, there are not many judges in the US that already know how to code, and even few that will take the time to learn to code and understand code before issuing a judgement.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >I suspect Oracle is hoping that the appeal judge they get is a computer illustrate fool that will buy their arguments

      Illiterate? I'm not judging- I've found myself, in the last couple of years, typing similar-sounding words in place of the ones I actually mean.

      I must admit, the article left me feeling computer-illiterate. All I know is that in my head, Java = annoying for its insistence on being updated every fortnight and attempting to install some shoddy browser 'toolbar'. If there is more to it than that, Oracle have not encouraged me to find out more.

      1. proto-robbie
        Headmaster

        Alliteration in PlayMobil or it didn't happen.

      2. wowfood

        Perhaps google could counter with.

        An API is much like a toolbox. Now, all these tools were created many many years ago, long before the Java brand tools came along, with a JSpanner. It's exactly the same as a spanner, except the name is different, and it's kept in a different place in the toolbox. As has been proven, their trademarks and patents did not cover the names of items in the toolbox, nor did it cover the box itself.

        Google, seeing that this toolbox was good, took elements of it. The tools go into the same places, and they bear similar names. GSpanner for example. The big difference is the JSpanner was made out of hardened plastic, while the GSpanner was made out of cast iron.

        Both are based on the Spanner of old, both have similar names, and both go into the same slot in the toolbox, but both are made in completely different ways even though they function the same.

        1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
          Happy

          @wowfood

          You should copyright your analogy immediately! Even I could understand it and I'm thick.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "with a JSpanner. It's exactly the same as a spanner, except the name is different, and it's kept in a different place in the toolbox"

          ..and it's really uncomfortable to hold, and strips the shoulders off any size of nut equally...

  14. Michael Habel Silver badge
    Trollface

    You wouldn't steal a Harry Potter book...

    No.... But with all those 3D Printer that I've been hearing so much about lately.

    Perhaps I could finally steal that Car from the RIAA.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: You wouldn't steal a Harry Potter book...

      You can only print single entities so if you want it to move you would have to do it 'one piece at a time'

      with apologies to Johnny Cash

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